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How to Eradicate Bedeviling Thoughts


All 8.1 billion of us on the planet struggle with bedeviling thoughts to greater or lesser extent. Effective management depends on your view of them and the effort you put into governing them. What’s your take on thoughts? What’s their purpose? Are they facts or truths? Are they all created equal? You must seriously consider and answer these questions in order to be in charge of your thoughts rather than the other way around. 

Neuroscientist and psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett author of the groundbreaking book, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, calls the brain a prediction machine which works nonstop to keep us out of harm’s way. Emotions and thoughts are constantly interacting with each other, surfacing as considerations that either float in and out of awareness or bombard us. Some are automatic reactions to the present (wow, they’re hot) and others are memories that intrude because a situation is similar to one we’ve been in before (sadly, hot doesn’t always equal relationship material). 

When we let random considerations take over our mind/bodies like wild children, we often end up ruminating on the same thoughts and feelings over and over trying to resolve a dilemma that’s over and done with and, therefore, unresolvable. In this state, we’re no longer problem-solving; we’re simply making ourselves miserable.

But we don’t need to be. If you believe as I do that you’re in charge of your thoughts, you’ll manage what you do with them when they show up, although their popping into awareness will be ongoing as part of the brain’s prediction process. For example, say you keep thinking about whether or not to remain friends with your ex. Round and round the thought-feeling process goes, endlessly ping-ponging you from yes to no and back to maybe and getting you nowhere but feeling frustrated and upset.

To stop the cycle, remind yourself you are causing your own misery (yes, you!) which provides instant distance from your inner dialogue and empowers you to stop it. Refuse to get seduced into thinking unwanted thoughts, so not flirting or dancing with them

Also . . . using the “ex” example above, you could write their name on a piece of paper and throw it in the trash. Do this every time their name crops up in your mind. Or picture a boxing match on TV and you clicking the remote’s off button. Watch your thoughts disintegrate and vanish (poof!). Practice mindfulness, that is, letting your thoughts go by and disappear. Insist they leave and if they do and return (which they will), insist again and again. Relax your body or direct your energies to a new task. In sum, use your inner strength, will and wisdom to assess and refresh your thought process as needed.